How the Kombucha King Came to Dominate an Industry Niche

Few people know what it takes to disrupt a major business category better than GT Dave. He’s the founder of GT’s Living Foods, a probiotic foods company known for its market-dominating kombucha. With a 40 percent share of the global kombucha business, which is estimated to reach $8 billion in 2027, his company rules its industry niche. 

Dave spoke with Inc. executive editor Marli Guzzetta in a wide-ranging interview Wednesday in a Real Talk stream event, touching on topics from staying grounded to  pursuing an entrepreneur’s vision. Here are some takeaways for business owners:

Keep in touch with your audience.

GT Dave has a habit of doing something many successful founders and CEOs often skip: speaking with customers directly. He says there are times when he wishes he hired someone to handle his social media, but that personally interacting with customers and fans has kept him grounded. 

“I don’t go to the stores as much as I would like. I don’t physically interact with consumers as much as I want to,” says Dave. Social media and email help him maintain a dialogue and communication with customers and fans. And thereby stay in touch with the rapidly changing consumer marketplace and ahead of trends. 

Stay true to your vision.

At some point in the course of building your company, says Dave, you’ll want to go one way, and some people around you will urge you to change your mind. These people may include investors, distrubutors, or employees. At one point, Dave says, he was forced to let some people go at his company who didn’t want to follow his vision. It was difficult but necessary for him to continue, he says.

“If people are contradicting you, or getting in the way, as much as it’s challenging to do, you have to say, ‘Thanks, but step aside. I’m going to continue on this path,’ ” says Dave.

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